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The life insurance market: Asymmetric information revisited

By Daifeng He

Abstract

This paper finds evidence for the presence of asymmetric information in the life insurance market, a conclusion contrasting with the existing literature. In particular, we find a significant and positive correlation between the decision to purchase life insurance and subsequent mortality, conditional on risk classification. Individuals who died within a 12-year time window after a base year were 19% more likely to have taken up life insurance in that base year than were those who survived the time window. Moreover, as might be expected when individuals have residual private information, we find that the earlier an individual died, the more likely she was to have initially bought insurance. The primary factor driving the difference between our and the prior literature's findings is that we focus on a sample of potential new buyers, rather than on the entire cross section, to address the sample selection problem induced by potential mortality differences between those with and those without coverage.Asymmetric information Private information Life insurance Sample selection Differential mortality New buyers Health status Pricing factors Risk classification

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